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1. The Consultation H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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Table Of Contents: The Secret Places of the Heart

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"We said: 'This system will always go on. We needn't bother about it.' We just planned our lives accordingly. It was like a bird building its nest of frozen snakes. My father left me a decent independence. I developed my position; I have lived between here and the hospital, doing good work, enormously interested, prosperous, mildly distinguished. I had been born and brought up on the good ship Civilization. I assumed that someone else was steering the ship all right. I never knew; I never enquired."

"Nor did I" said Sir Richmond, "but--"

"And nobody was steering the ship," the doctor went on. "Nobody had ever steered the ship. It was adrift."

"I realized that. I--"

"It is a new realization. Always hitherto men have lived by faith--as children do, as the animals do. At the back of the healthy mind, human or animal, has been this persuasion: 'This is all right. This will go on. If I keep the rule, if I do so and so, all will be well. I need not trouble further; things are cared for.'"

"If we could go on like that!" said Sir Richmond.

"We can't. That faith is dead. The war--and the peace--have killed it."

The doctor's round face became speculative. His resemblance to the full moon increased. He seemed to gaze at remote things. "It may very well be that man is no more capable of living out of that atmosphere of assurance than a tadpole is of living out of water. His mental existence may be conditional on that. Deprived of it he may become incapable of sustained social life. He may become frantically self-seeking--incoherent . . . a stampede. . . . Human sanity may--DISPERSE.

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"That's our trouble," the doctor completed. "Our fundamental trouble. All our confidences and our accustomed adaptations are destroyed. We fit together no longer. We are--loose. We don't know where we are nor what to do. The psychology of the former time fails to give safe responses, and the psychology of the New Age has still to develop."

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The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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